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Learn to survive an avalanche

Image Credit: Canadian Avalanche Centre/J. Hegan
January 25, 2014 - 2:01 PM

REVELSTOKE – If an avalanche in the Southern Interior backcountry buries you or a friend, having transceivers and all the other gear isn’t much help if you don’t know how to use it.

That’s the message from both the Canadian Avalanche Centre and the B.C. Coroners Service.

A snowmobiler buried in an avalanche near Valemont on Saturday, Jan. 18 died despite the fact everyone in the group was carrying the essential avalanche safety gear.

It took three hours to find Kym Wilson, 28, of Warburg, Alta. He was buried in a metre of snow. A specialized team from Parks Canada recovered his body the next day once the avalanche risk was assessed and the Goat Ridge area south of Valemont was deemed safe.

“Avalanche victims have an 80 per cent chance of survival if found and dug out within 10 minutes. The odds (of survival) drop dramatically after that,” according to Avalanche Centre executive director Gilles Valade. “After just 35 minutes, there’s less than a 10 per cent chance of survival.”

If you don’t know how to use that transceiver you bought, it’s not going to be much use to you in an avalanche.

Valade says that modern digital transceivers are very intuitive tools, but you still need practice to become adept at using them.

Everyone who recreates in the backcountry in the winter is being urged to take a two-day Avalanche Skills Training course. They will learn the essential safety skills, and practice them before they head off into avalanche terrain on their snowmobiles, snowshoes, boards or skis.

To contact the reporter for this story, email or call 250-491-0331.

Practicing the conveyor shovelling method.
Practicing the conveyor shovelling method.
Image Credit: Canadian Avalanche Centre/Brent Strand

Learning how to use probes.
Learning how to use probes.
Image Credit: Canadian Avalanche Centre/Keith Nicol
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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